King, Karen L. The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle.
Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge Press, 2003.
The three parts of this book include the full text of the brief gospel itself and King’s own English translation, her interpretation of the gospel’s teaching, and her assessment of its significance in the development of early Christianity. King’s valuation of this ancient document is highly important in that she argues its appearance causes the “old master story of the history of early Christianity” to be challenged and rewritten (39). While she explains its distinction from clichéd categories of ‘gnosticism,’ as well as its radical departure from the elite teachings of Plato and the Stoics, King also claims the text offers a new vision of the ancient Christian community. It modeled authority based not on a succession of past witnesses, but on understanding. She argues that Mary’s teaching and example validate women’s leadership in antiquity when it was “based on unwavering faith, spiritual understanding, moral strength, and a commitment to further the gospel and help others” (187).